Hurler Iwakuma finishes first in PL

Kyodo News

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma finished first in the Pacific League with 21 wins, a 1.87 ERA and a .840 winning percentage as the league concluded its 2008 regular-season schedule Tuesday.

Back from shoulder and elbow injuries that limited him to a total of 22 starts and six wins the past two seasons, Iwakuma won five more than Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters right-hander Yu Darvish to be the PL winningest pitcher for the second time in his career and first since 2004 for the Kintetsu Buffaloes.

Darvish was also second in ERA (1.88) and runnerup behind Softbank Hawks lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi with 208 strikeouts. Sugiuchi topped the league with 213.

Daisuke Kato had a PL-leading 33 saves for the Orix Buffaloes.

In major hitting categories, Seibu Lions third baseman Takeya Nakamura captured his first home run title with 46.

Rakuten’s Rick Short edged out Seibu’s Hiroyuki Nakajima in batting average .332 to .331.

Orix outfielder Tuffy Rhodes led the league with 118 RBIs and Seibu second baseman Yasuyuki Kataoka with 50 stolen bases.